Indoor marijuana growers have long used high-intensity discharge (HID) metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS) grow lights. But there are big problems with HID grow lights…
HID grow lights generate way more heat than any other type of marijuana grow lights. HID bulbs wear out quickly, can burn the plant canopy, are a fire risk, and can burn you. Some digital ballasts for HID grow lights create radio frequency interference (RFI) used by law enforcement and/or rippers to discover where a grow op is located. RFI can also play havoc with wireless and wi-fi devices in your home.
In the past 15 years, many of us tried LED grow lights for growing marijuana. Some marijuana growers with small, low-height auto-flowering, sea of green, and SCROG gardens report adequate results with LED grow lights. Other growers report that LED grow lights have quality control problems, and manufacturers don’t honor warranties or otherwise support their LED products. And many growers doubt LEDs provide enough light intensity firepower for full-size cannabis plants, especially in bloom phase.
Our team of growers spent years trying out LED grow lights and talking to growers and manufacturers worldwide about LED grow lights. We saw that the majority of growers decided after trying LED grow lights that most brands of LED grow lights have problems that made them unsatisfactory when compared to HID grow lights, especially during bloom phase.
A couple of years ago, we heard about a Michigan-based LED grow light company called Lush Lighting. Growers we respect told us Lush LED grow lights are as good and in some cases better than HID lighting at maximizing bud size and cannabinoid percentages in fair side by side grow tests. We contacted Matt Johnson, the president and CEO of Lush Lighting.
Matt turns out to be one of the most knowledgeable, candid and pleasant hydroponics equipment manufacturers we’ve encountered. He said his Lush LED grow lights equal or exceed HID in canopy penetration, plant health, photosynthesis and other plant metabolism rates, yield per watt, and cannabinoid and terpenoid production.
Matt said he was legally growing medical marijuana in Michigan with HID grow lights before he founded Lush Lighting. He was tired of buying expensive air conditioning gear and paying big money to remove HID grow lights heat. He bought top brands of LED grow lights and started using them, because LED grow lights put out half the heat of HID. But he was shocked to discover that the LED units created crop stress, and light, airy, fluffy buds.
That’s when he decided to make his own LED grow lights. In 2010, he created a scientific research team including a biochemist, botanist, and electrical engineer. LED prototypes were created and tested in grow rooms. Other brands were tested. All fell short.
Then Matt’s research discovered obscure information about how plants take a photon of light and metabolize it into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the crucial molecular energy catalyst that powers all living cells.
New rounds of tests in 2011 and 2012 yielded better grow room results, but Matt wanted to equal or exceed HID grow light performance in bloom phase. He brought another legal medical cannabis grower into the team and expanded his cannabis grow room testing to confirm the results.
“We were elated to see that our lights created fat, gooey buds with high levels of density, weight, size, and resin production. We incorporated our business in Southwest Michigan and came up with the name Lush Lighting in June 2012,” Matt explains.
When Lush Lighting opened its door years ago, Matt was the only person in the LED grow lights industry who had the courage to openly state he was designing grow lights to boost cannabinoid and terpenoid production. He was also the only LED grow lights manufacturer who’d take the time to explain in depth why his lights were crafted for growing marijuana.
“High pressure sodium, metal halide, ceramic, CFL, plasma, induction, quartz, halogen, incandescent and all other types of lighting sources are more limited than LED in the combinations and ratios of light wavelengths they can create,” he explains. “They have very inefficient conversion ratios that create excess heat instead of optimal light output. Properly-designed LED grow lights avoid those problems and deliver the light plants want for photosynthesis and resin production.”
Matt says that most brands of grow lights aren’t providing the right light radiation spectrum to drive photosynthesis and resin production.
“Most other grow lights manufacturers don’t understand that color spectrum plays a more significant role than light intensity in fueling photosynthesis,” he says. “Photosynthesis happens when your marijuana plants absorb photons to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Light is photosynthesis fuel, but light comes in different wavelengths, and the quality of the fuel depends on which wavelengths the grow light puts out.”
Plants of different species absorb and metabolize different light spectrums dependent on their ratio of light-absorbing pigments, he explains. The way different plant species perform a crucial metabolic function called the electron transport chain (ETC) differs, and can be hindered when a species is denied specific light spectrums. Cannabis is in a category of plants that can metabolize a broad range of photons, has one of the most efficient electron transport chains, and can grow as tall as a tree in one single season.
“Our scientists discovered that cannabis absorbs blue light at a ratio of 2:1 over red light. The peak absorption of light for Chlorophyll B is 80% for blue light and 30% of red light. The peak absorption of light for Chlorophyll A is 60% blue light and 40% of red light. Plants absorb 60% to 80% of blue light and only 30% and 40% of red light, even during bloom phase, so any grow light that has an overall red color hue is producing the wrong color spectrum,” he explains.
“By looking at the spectrum of other grow lights, you can tell that manufacturers don’t have a photobiologist on staff. Their spectrums aren’t optimized to drive photosynthesis and cannabinoid and terpenoid pathways. I’ve been to trade shows and sat on LED industry panels listening to these people, and it’s obvious they don’t have the plant biology expertise you need to make great LED grow lights,” he says.
What Matt said made sense to me and my team. We’d used other brands of LED grow lights for growing marijuana that cost as much as $2100 for one light. None of them equaled HID, especially in bloom phase. Some harmed our plants, making them grow slowly if at all, damaging leaves, creating pathetic harvest weight and resin percentages. Many growers have experienced these same problems, especially with lower-priced LEDs that cost less than $500. It made growers skeptical about the entire LED grow lights industry.
In contrast, Lush lights are easy to use, and we saw obviously maximized photosynthesis and vigor in grow and bloom phase.
“One thing I have to overcome when I’m talking to growers at my hydroponics store in Niles, Michigan is their bad experience with other LED brands. They’re prejudiced against LED grow lights. I have to show them that Lush lights, and our company’s care for growers, are much different and better,” Matt says.
Matt acknowledge that grower ask about the initial cost of LED grow lights compared to the lower cost of HID grow lights. Matt says his lights pay for themselves in several ways.
“Lush LED grow lights lower your grow room costs, especially when you compare the electricity draw per light, the output of the proper light spectrum per watt, and the cost of cooling. We provide the right light spectrum with enough light intensity to increase penetration so that our LED lights even beat DE fixtures in terms of yield per watt, and resins per watt. HPS doesn’t increase cannabinoid production, but Lush LED grow lights fuel faster growth, larger flowers, and more cannabinoid and terpenoid production,” he says.
Not only that, LED grow lights cost less to use over time, because HID bulbs should be replaced every season, he says.
“Lush Lighting is an American corporation based out of Michigan,” he said. “We carefully inspect and bench-test each light, and our lights are labeled, shipped, and serviced here in Michigan. We understand growers value their plants more than gold, especially medical marijuana growers who need the healing power of cannabis. We know they’re trusting us with their crops, their financial success, and sometimes their lives. We honor that trust by putting the grower first. For example, on the very rare occasion when a Lush grow light has technical problems, we immediately ship a replacement light to the grower (or to the retail store they purchased it from) so they don’t have to go without while their light is being repaired.”
My grower team has tested Lush Lighting LEDs for three years. Lush Lighting gear is reliable and productive. In small grow rooms and large-scale commercial grow ops, in sea of green, autoflowering, and full-size photoperiod plant marijuana gardens, the Lush lights have given us tens of thousands of hours of flawless operation. Our harvest weight is comparable to when we used premium HID grow bulbs, and where Lush gear really outperforms is in its ability to spur cannabinoid and terpenoid production.
“Lush Lighting is an American corporation based out of Michigan,” Matt says. “We carefully inspect and bench-test each light. Our lights are labeled, shipped, and serviced here in Michigan. We understand growers value their plants more than gold, especially medical marijuana growers who need the healing power of cannabis. We know they’re trusting us with their crops, their financial success, and sometimes their lives. We honor that trust by putting the grower first. For example, on the very rare occasion when a Lush grow light has technical problems, we immediately ship a replacement light to the grower or to the retail store they purchased it from so they don’t have to go without while their light is being repaired.”
When you’re ready to increase your grow op success, lower your heat levels and electricity costs, and see stickier, more potent buds, get in touch with Lush Lighting. and see how their gear works for you. Take a look at the photo and videos of Lush Lights and massive buds in this article for an indication of what the lights can do for you.